tonight on "nightline," they're going door to door and person to person, spending two years far from home as part of a right of passage, that helped shape a young mitt romney. we bring you a day in the life of mormon missionaries. the rain makers. wish you could change the weather? these guys do it for a living, flying straight into thunderstorms to try to make it rain more. in the midst of record-shattering drought, we take to the skies to see if it's the real deal. and, sugar rush. from honey-rosemary macaroon sandwiches to sorbet. this pastry chef reveals the secrets to his sweet confections. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden
and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," october 5th, 2012. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. you might find them going door to door in a neighborhood near ewe. young men in shirts and ties, hoping to convert people to the church of jesus christ of latter day saints. one of the fastest growing religions in the world. this work is part of a demanding two-year right of passage, a journey once taken by mitt romney. abc's bob woodruff brings us this look inside. [ knocking ] >> hi, how are you doing today? >> we're missionaries from the church -- >> reporter: the two-year mission is a right of passage for most young mormon men. >> have you ever seen missionaries in this neighborhood before? >> reporter: there are 55,000 missionaries, serving around the world. and the church allowed our team rare access into their world for two days. of door knocking, teaching -- >> called the vision of the tree
of life. >> reporter: and community service. >> i am a mormon. >> i'm a mormon. >> reporter: mormons have never been so visible. while mitt romney's presidential candidacy may have ushered in a mormon moment in this country, the church remains largely a mystery to those outside of the faith. >> elder dustin. >> i'm sorry. >> elder dustin. >> elder? >> yes, sir. right here on my name tag, if that helps. >> it does. >> reporter: elder is a church term for the missionaries, though at age 21 and 20, they are anything but old. >> i like your hat. >> reporter: they are serving on a mission in la mras, louisiana, a long way from home in utah. >> i didn't know too much about it. people would tell me, you're going to have jambalaya and gumbo. i'm like, what is that? i don't know what is that. >> reporter: the church determines, they believe with devine guidance, where missionaries are placed. mitt romney served in bordeaux, france, where he has said he
learned about rejection, trying to convince the french to give up wine. >> we're missionaries from the church of jesus christ -- >> we have our own religion, thank you. zblf that's okay. >> reporter: in the deep south, the missionaries often come across people with deeply rooted religious traditions. >> what church do you attend? >> glory of god. >> would it be all right if i left you with a little pamphlet? >> no, thank you. >> for some reason, they don't understand that we're trying to add to that faith in christ. >> would you like to come in? >> reporter: but then they mean yvonno, who immediately invites them inside. >> do you have a faith in christ? >> yes, i do. >> we would like to add to that and leave this with you. >> okay. >> because what's contained in that is the restoration of the gospel. >> reporter: what do they mean about the gospel? a key difference between the latter day saints and other
christians is that mormons believe that after the resurrection, jesus came to the ancient americas in a journey described in the book of mormon. while some continue to associate mormons with polygamy -- >> get out of here. now. >> reporter: and shows like "big love" add to the public's fascination with the topic, the church banned polygamy in 1890. those some breakoff sects have continued the practice. >> the material that's most frequently asked for is copies of the book of mormon. >> reporter: this is the baton rouge mission headquarters. >> that go okay? >> that was awesome. we pretty much just killed it, i guess. >> reporter: president jim wall is a surrogate parent to the missionaries who are only allowed to call home twice a year, even though they pay most of their own way. missionaries are required to turn in receipts for everything down to their gas miles. >> i think if i were a corporation, i'd hire a missionary, because they have such good training. >> reporter: the missionaries work in pairs. why do you keep these two young
men together? they can't split apart except when they go to the bathroom. >> it's just for safety's sake. somebody didn't wave a magic wand and take away all the dumb. once in awhile, they make bad choices. when you are with a companion, it's harder to make really bad choices. >> what do you think, skip? >> reporter: the rules are strict. no el the vision, no personal phone calls, no coffee or tea. elder dustin looks nothing like his old i.d. photo and they dress up even in the heat. >> we always wake up, try to be up by, before 6:30. >> in the name of jesus christ, amen. >> reporter: by evening, they are ready for a home-cooked meal at the home of a browns, a family of local mormons, once converts themselves. they have gathered to welcome newcomer gloria adamson to the table. is it likely you are going to be converted? >> me and god are tight. right now, the way i am. i suppose we could get a lot tighter.
you know, if i repent and do whatever, but -- that's not going to happen any time soon. >> reporter: are there a lot of sins? >> that i've done? >> reporter: yeah. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> reporter: and, she says, she's not ready to stop. are you sorry for drinking? >> no. >> reporter: you are going to be hard to be converted. >> exactly. and i smoke, too. >> reporter: you think you have a pretty good shot to bring her over? >> it's not really about that. as we taught her. we're there to build her faith in christ. >> i don't want our missionaries to think about a number. i don't want a person to think that they're a number. >> reporter: but the church does track converts and their statistics show nearly 300,000 converts were baptized in 2011. all taught, at one point, by missionaries. and it is moments like this one that seem to excite the missionaries the most. rick seems eager to hear their message. >> the book of mormon is a record of just that, the people that lived here in the ancient
americas and how christ isn't just the savior of the middle east, but he's the savior of the world. >> reporter: they make an appointment to return. >> good to meet you, rick. i've been a missionary for 20 months, knocked on countless doors, talked to countless people and the excitement doesn't go away. the excitement to tell people about what i know, what's brought me happiness and joy, it doesn't end. >> reporter: i'm bob woodruff for "nightline" in laplace, louisiana. >> thanks to bob woodruff for that look at a mormon right of passage. next up, we take you straight into a storm cloud to see if one team of pilots really hold the key to making it rain more. ♪ [ male announcer ] you've reached the age where you don't back down from a challenge. this is the age of knowing how to make things happen. so, why let erectile dysfunction get in your way? talk to your doctor about viagra. 20 million men already have.
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>> this year marks the worst drought america has seen in decades, and it's showing no signs of letting up. over half the country has been affected with the brunt bearing down on the mid and southwest, especially nebraska, kansas, the dakotas and parts of the south. look at that. well, in one hard-hit area of texas, some people have grown tired of waiting for mother nature to bring relief and have decided to try to make matters into their own hands. here's abc's juju chang. >> reporter: craig is flying me to the edge of a violent thunderstorm. >> you see how nice and crisp the top of that cloud is up there? >> reporter: yeah. but the former commercial pie lont isn't some adrenaline junkie. he's a cloud seater, chasing this storm to squeeze out extra rain for the drought-stricken farm land below. >> as a pilot going through school, you are taught to avoid thunderstorms. >> reporter: this is craig's job. firing chemicals into the clouds in a controversial attempt to modify the weather. he's literally a rainmaker.
that dark, thick cloud over there has lots of moisture in it. >> it looks heavy with rain. >> reporter: cloud seeding is now getting a closer look, as farmers desperate for solutions endure their fourth month of record-shattering drought, with no end in sight. it's actually the largest drought in half a century. responsible for rising food prices and record wildfires. it's even suspected to be a cause for the recent surge in cases of west nile virus. so, we came to south texas to find out if cloud seeding can really maximize our most precious resource or if it is just a romantic notion that doesn't hold water. >> we can't manufacture a cloud. that is just absolute basic. we cannot make it rain if it was not going to rain to begin with. >> reporter: tommy is president of the texas weather modification association. he's quick to explain that he can only enhance the weather, not create it.
>> if you look at the cloud as a factory, we're inducing a lot of raw material into the factory, so that the factory becomes more efficient. >> reporter: and more productive? his team of pilots and meteorologists are scanning the skies for the right clouds to feed. everybody is going to get good rain. after ten bone dry days, a promising cluster of thunderstorms is finally headed their way. whi butch is today's stand-by pilot. he takes the first run. up in the air, we get a bird's eye view of butch's delicate dance. >> he's just working the very edge of it. >> reporter: and then, butch finds the cloud's sweet spot. >> okay, he's fixing to light a flare. >> reporter: i see the flare. it looks like he's painting the sky. the flares are shooting millions of silver eye died and calcium chloride particles into the cloud, where they collide with drops of water and ice and produce even more moisture.
then, usually within 20 minutes -- so, what is this white, smoky stuff over here? >> that's rain. >> reporter: that's rain? >> yeah, that's rain. all this is rain out here. you go out, you seed for a few hours or all day long, really know you did some good. it's a good feeling. >> reporter: the radar data collected today adds to a growing body of evidence that cloud seeding works. it can double the amount of moisture in a given cloud and the texas program boasted 12% increase in annual rainfall thanks to seeding. and long-term studying show the chemicals are environmentally safe and can't even be detected in the rainfall. but despite all the data, some of cloud seeding's biggest critics are surprisingly the very farmers who stand to benefit most. >> this isn't the first drought we've been through and it won't be the last. >> reporter: bill's family has been farming this land for five generations. he and his son brett tell us it's expensive to irrigate 300 acres of crop.
all that watering cuts deeply into profit. but they are skeptical that anything short of divine intervention can make more rain. what do you make of the cloud seeding program? >> well, when you've been in a drought since '96 and we had one wet year -- is it working? >> we can't stop or break drought. we just try to put a little more water on the ground. >> reporter: and every drop of water, craig explains, helps feed the underground act bier if used to irrigate drops. so, though he can't promise bill and brett more rainy days, he's convinced cloud seeding is helping them in the long run. the local water districts that manage the aquifers believe it is working, too. they pay four cents an acre to keep craig and his team up and running. >> we're not making promises we can't keep and we're not making claims we did not do. >> reporter: tommy brushes off critics who say he's playing god. his ideas may be bold, but he says, he never loses sight of
what is really in charge. >> you're not going to beat mother nature. let's just understand that right off. we work with mother nature. we try to help mother nature. pick your battles. i wouldn't even fight my own mother. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm juju chang over pleasanton, texas. >> thanks to juju for that. just ahead, from ginger snap cookies to passion fruit sorbet, one lawyer, turned pass try chef, gives us a taste of his favorite treats. how can you get back pain relief that lasts up to 16 hours?
what happens when a disillusioned lawyer decided to chase his dessert-loving dreams? he quits his job, goes to pastry school, opening a wildly popular dessert truck and parlays that success into his own new york city restaurant. and now chef jerome chang is whipping up his sugary favorites for tonight's "plate list." >> before i was a chef, i was a lawyer. i was a lawyer for one year in new york city. decided it wasn't for me. and just ditched everything and went into pastry school and my life has been different ever since. so, i'm going to be making a granita along with a honey rosemary ice cream macaroon sandwich. take some sugar. dissolve it in hot water, whisk it around.
infuse some basil and lavender. pour it through the strainer. add the jous. pour it into this container. let it freeze for four hours. scrape it every half hour to hour. i was working with really high end stuff. for many years already. and, you know, these desserts were really good but people were paying $12, $16 a plate just to get this kind of stuff. and i felt it was time that people get really good quality desserts at an affordable price and that's where the truck idea came from. these are honey-rosemary ice cream sandwiches. honey rosemary ice cream. take a scoop of this stuff. place it in the middle. sandwich it together. if that isn't luscious, i don't know what is. it was just me and my business partner, chris. just me in the kitchen, 16-hour days, chris would drive the truck around.
it's just been almost a whirlwind since night one. really amazing. we've been really lucky. the granita is frozen. we've been scraping it and now we have this beautiful snow. there, the lemon basil and lavender granita and the honey-rosemary macaroon sandwich. i'm going to be making a passion fruit and thyme sorbet. some simmering water. pour in the passion fruit puree. pinch of salt. whisi ink it around. now just strain it out into miss trusty ice cream container here. we're just going to freeze this for a few hours until it is hard. i've always felt like it was worth it. even if the truck opened up and failed the next day, i would have had no regrets. going to make a ginger snap cookie. we got some dough here. going to roll it out.
little disc. cut it out. put it on a sheet pan. sprinkle it with some sugar in the raw. bake it in the oven for 20 minutes at 300 degrees. i'm 20 million times happier as a chef than i was as a lawyer. because this is what i was meant to do. i really believe that. so, these cookies just game out of the on. i'm going to full threat with a hazelnut and nutella buttercream. flip over the cookies and fill it with this beautiful buttercream. sandwich them together. like that. you have a beautiful, luscious sandwich cookie. there you go, ginger snap cook keeps with hazelnut and nutella buttercream. >> yum. thanks for watching abc news, be sure to tune in next week for cynthia mcfadden's interview with michelle obama. we hope you check in for "good morning america." we're always online at abcnews.com. jimmy kimmel is next. have a great weekend.